South Africa: Sport, Arts and Culture Signs a Cultural Agreement With Cuba

DSAC to sign a Cultural Agreement with the Republic of Cuba on Bilateral Relations in the Fields of Arts and Culture

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture will sign a cultural agreement with Cuba on bilateral cooperation in the domains of arts and culture on June 10, 2021. Ambassador Rodolfo Benitz Verson will represent the Republic of Cuba.

The Bilateral Cultural Relations between South Africa and Cuba is founded on long-standing links that date back to the battle against apartheid, in which Cuba played a key role in the final defeat.

A Cooperation Agreement in the Fields of Arts and Culture was signed in 2001. The parties agreed to negotiate a new agreement that would reflect the present state of the sector’s evolution. The Agreements’ goal is to enhance mutual awareness and understanding of each other’s cultural, intellectual and creative achievements to the greatest degree feasible.

Carlos Fernández de Cossio, the then Cuban Ambassador to South Africa, paid Minister Nathi Mthethwa a courtesy call on February 6, 2015. During the meeting, the two sides discussed problems relating to Cuban-South African cultural connections as well as the two nations’ long-standing friendship and it was during this meeting that a resolve was to the signing of a new agreement.

Following that, in 2019, a group from the Cuban Ministry of Culture paid a working visit to SA and finalized the text of a new Agreement. The agreement was meant to be signed in 2020, however it was postponed because to the COVID 19 epidemic. To avoid any delays, Cuba’s Ambassador, HE Rodolfo Benitez Verson, obtained permission from his government to sign the Agreement on behalf of his country’s Minister of Culture and the request was granted.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa approved an international benchmarking exercise to Cuba for the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) and the National Academy of Africa’s Performing Arts (NAAPA) in 2021, however the tour was postponed owing to the COVID 19 epidemic in both countries. The DSAC is presently awaiting word from the South African Embassy in Cuba on when the delegation will be able to visit because to the COVID 19 situation in Cuba.

The benchmarking exercise aims to engage Cuban institutions for exchange programmes, teachers for residency programmes, teaching programmes, curriculum sharing and teaching skills in various areas of music, dance, theater, films, instrument repair and electrification of traditional instruments, and technical know-how of executing instruments.

Numerous high-level ministerial delegations visited Cuba between 2009 and 2015 under the previous agreement, and various programs were implemented and realized. The events included a book expo in which South African authors took part in the Cuban Annual Book Fair. In February 2015, the 24th International Book Fair took place. This is a once-a-year event presented by Cuba.

OR Tambo’s bust was placed at Havana’s Africa Founders’ Park. The South African Embassy in Cuba began an initiative to restore the bust. As a result, a new bronze bust has been created to replace the previous one. The previous bust was relocated to the Embassy and reinstalled.

The Cuba Heroes Acre, a century-old cemetery northwest of Santiago de Cuba, was founded in April 1868. As the city’s population expanded, it had to be relocated to the outskirts. Joe Marti was killed in war and is buried at this cemetery. From the day he died on 3 February 1937 until the day his body was interred, the spot commemorates the beginning and finish of Joe Marti’s funeral path. On May 20, 1979, both locations were designated as national landmarks.

The tomb of Jose Marti is a massive architectural structure measuring 26 meters in height and 86 meters in length. It has an everlasting flame and a permanent guard that is rotated every 30 minutes in a spectacular military ceremonial. This is a popular tourist destination.

Francisco Repilado, Pepe Sanchez, the creator of the musical style known as “trova,” and Nico Saquito, a well-known song composer, are among the notable musicians buried at that cemetery.

South Africa is taking notes from Cuba’s heroes. The National Historical Monument/Heroes Acre intended as a heritage site in South Africa was created at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve in Pretoria, but was eventually relocated to Cape Town. It was intended that the NHM, particularly the Heroes Acre, give a chance for all South Africans and international tourists to learn about our shared history.

The goal of the NHM heritage/tourism site was to commemorate the anti-colonial and anti-Apartheid struggle by honoring individuals who fought for a democratic South Africa, as well as the South African people’s collective resistance. The NHM is based on a Cuban model.

A South African group, Joburg Ballet, had a collaboration program with the Cuban Dance Institution as part of the bilateral agreement. This project entailed transferring skills with Cuban instructors who came to teach youngsters. The Cuban Ministry of Culture and the South African Departments of Arts and Culture, Home Affairs and DIRCO, as well as the Cuban Embassy in South Africa, all backed the effort.

All of the participating ballet schools got awards during a ceremony held at Monte Casino in 2019. The chairwoman of the Arts and Culture portfolio committee, as well as chairperson from the Department of Sport, Arts, and Culture, were in attendance.